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Mobile only students

You’ve probably heard the term “mobile-only” but haven’t really thought too much about it. So let’s start by defining it:

     Mobile-only internet users are individuals who use a mobile device only to access
     the internet. Mobile-only includes the use of smart phones and tablets bu
t excludes
     laptops and desktops.

Mobile-only internet users are a growing population of individuals from across a wide spectrum of demographic profiles and personas. They use their mobile devices for all of their web browsing.

Here are a few statistics about who they are, how they behave and why they should be on your college or university recruitment marketing radar:

  • 6% are all internet users are mobile-only – Emarketer
  • 14% of women, 25-49 access the internet mobile-only – Mobile Marketer
  • 20 % of Amazon and Wikipedia’ s traffic is from mobile-only users – Comscore
  • 50% of internet users in India are mobile-only – India Times
  • 51% of African- Americans do most of their browsing on their phone – Pew Internet
  • By 2015 there will be 788 million mobile-only users – Cisco
    cisco stats2

Surprising stats, aren’t they. The last three are particularly compelling. Mobile-only prospects make up a small percentage of the market now, but I would bet, based on these trends, that in a few years, a very big percentage of your total perspective student audience will use their mobile devices exclusively for internet browsing.

Responsive website design has made great inroads in higher ed to provide the mobile user with a much improved visitor experience. The concept of mobile-first design has refocused the approach of web designers on how to prioritize and structure content for the smart phone and tablet using visitor, while still addressing the overall needs of desktop browsing. Many schools, due to past investments and redesign cycles do however maintain alternative mobile sites. Personally I am big fan of mobile sites as I think they allow you to really take advantage of the mobile context and provide something quite unique to the visitor. But unfortunately, this same flexibility often leads to poor mobile sites where students are only offered a thin subset of the content available on the desktop site. Of course, the third approach to providing your content to the mobile user involves the development of a unique mobile app for your institution, often marrying different aspects of existing web content and online information services in a branded app delivered to a “captive” audience. All of these web marketing and communications strategies still apply to the mobile-only prospective student but now there is a new twist.

The mobile-only prospective student is not just mobile-first, they are “mobile-primary”. They do not go home and crank up their laptop or desktop to browse the deeper content of your site. With this prospect you will have to accomplish all of your communication goals, pass through all of the conversion points in your recruitment funnel , and ultimately register the student through their mobile device only.

So here’s a few questions that have been running through my mind to help begin to plan for the new mobile-only prospect “persona”:

  • Are your analytics set up to properly track your mobile goals, sites and visitors?
  • Should you increase your investment in SEO to increase your mobile site rankings?
  • Mobile PPC is a different animal from desktop PPC. Learn before you leap.
  • Is all of your mission critical content and registration functionality available on mobile?
  • How should your content strategy evolve to include the expanding mobile world?
  • Should you migrate existing marketing collateral over to be more mobile friendly?
  • Social media thrives in the mobile environment. Are you social media channels optimized? Are you staffed adequately to engage effectively?

There’s lots to think about here, as if you didn’t already have enough on your plate. The reality is that the higher education market, that has changed so much in the last few years, is going to continue to change a lot, maybe even more dramatically as mobile technology fundamentally alters how we interact with the internet over the course of our daily lives.

We’d love to hear back from any international recruitment marketers where mobile- only already represents a huge share of the prospect student population. How have you shifted your marketing towards the mobile-only prospect? What’s working? Have they demonstrated any different or surprising behaviors from the more traditional, multi-screen using prospect?